Banister encouraged by Cashner's debut

Banister encouraged by Cashner's debut

SEATTLE -- The Rangers got their first look at Andrew Cashner in a Major League game on Saturday night after the veteran right-hander made it back from injury.

Even though Cashner was tagged with a loss in a 5-0 defeat at the hands of a dominant James Paxton and the Mariners, the Rangers liked what they saw and are eager to see him continue to progress as the season goes on.

Cashner, a 30-year-old native of Conroe, Texas, proudly donned a uniform with the name of his home state on the front for the first time after battling biceps soreness all spring. He held the Mariners scoreless for the first five innings before things spiraled downhill in a hurry in the sixth, but he did enough to impress, going 5 1/3 innings in all and giving up four runs -- three earned -- on five hits while striking out two and walking three.

Those numbers don't seem particularly dominant, but Rangers manager Jeff Banister saw beyond them, pointing out eight ground-ball outs, not particularly hard-hit balls that did damage, and the fact that Cashner, who sat around 92-93 mph, was crisp throughout.

"That was good," Banister said. "I felt like it was a solid outing. Obviously, the sixth inning got a little sideways for all of us. But it felt like the stuff was good. The sinking life on the fastball, the changeup looked to be an equalizer for him, and he was able to drive the four-seam fastball in and up."

In the pivotal sixth, Cashner got a quick groundout against Jarrod Dyson but gave up a softly hit single to Mitch Haniger. The next batter, Robinson Cano, grounded a ball up the middle that shortstop Elvis Andrus fielded but bobbled while trying to flip to second baseman Rougned Odor for a forceout. That proved to be a costly error, because after Cashner walked Nelson Cruz to load the bases, the next batter, Kyle Seager, fought off a changeup with a bleeder into right field for two runs.

That ended Cashner's night after 85 pitches and set up the next batter, Taylor Motter, to face reliever Mike Hauschild. Hauschild left a slider up and Motter crushed it into the left-field seats. That was the ballgame.

But the optimism regarding Cashner's Rangers debut wasn't lost on the pitcher or the team.

"I thought one of the things I could do better was get ahead late in the game, but fastball command both sides of the plate I thought was good," Cashner said. "My misses were small. I got a little better extension on my slider occasionally, but for the most part I kept them off balance all night."

Banister had left-handed reliever Alex Claudio ready to face left-handed-hitting Seager but liked Cashner more.

"The sinking life," Banister said. "I still felt like Cash had good stuff. He had, what, two hard-hit balls off him all night long? I felt like the pitches he threw were good, quality pitches with some execution.

"And even the pitch to Seager was an executed pitch. That was a good hitter getting enough of a pitch that he was able to lift it up over the infield and get it to the outfield to score a couple runs."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.

Jim Hoehn is a contributor for MLB.com based in Seattle.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.